St Paul's Cathedral completes £40m restoration project
St Paul's Cathedral has completed its £40m restoration project.
The St Paul's Cathedral programme of cleaning and repair took 15 years and is one of the largest restoration projects ever undertaken in the UK.
It is the first time in its history that St Paul's has been comprehensively restored inside and out.
The culmination of the cleaning project coincides with the 300th anniversary of the cathedral being declared complete by Parliament.
'Wren's original vision'
It is also the first time in 15 years that the landmark is free from scaffolding.
A service will be held to celebrate the 300th anniversary on Tuesday 21 June.
The project has seen the west front cleaned and repaired while the interior of the cathedral has been transformed by state-of-the-art conservation techniques.
The Right Reverend Graeme Knowles, Dean of St Paul's, said: "The two million worshippers, pilgrims and visitors who come to St Paul's each year can now witness [Sir Christopher] Wren's original vision and see the cathedral as fresh as the day it was completed."
Martin Stancliffe, Surveyor to the Fabric, who has overseen the restoration project, described it as a "privilege - and an extraordinary experience".
"This great building is now in a sound state, and probably looks better than at any time since its completion in 1711," he said.
St Paul's is the cathedral church of the diocese of London, which it has served for over 1,400 years.
Each year nearly two million people visit the cathedral for services, concerts, debates, educational events, performing arts and sightseeing.
A cathedral dedicated to St Paul has stood on the same site since 604AD.
Sir Christopher Wren's 300-year-old masterpiece is the fourth one to have been built there.
Court architect Wren was commissioned by Charles II to build the cathedral after its predecessor was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666.
It took Wren a decade to design the building and 40 years for it to be built.